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Iraq retains interest in Czech fighter

Jan. 26, 2012 at 11:08 AM

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Iraq is interested in purchasing jet fighter aircraft from the Czech Republic, the Czech Ministry of Defense says.

The plane, the L-159 ALCA, is suitable for ground support missions and is manufactured by Aero Vodochody. It has a maximum speed at sea level of about 580 mph and carries Maverick air-to-ground missiles. It has been in service with the Czech air force since the year 2000.

Czech Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra met this week with Iraqi Defense Minister Sadoon Al-Dulaimi. In a news conference following the meeting, Vondra said the countries have long had discussions on military cooperation in a number of fields.

"It has been a years-long marathon and I hope that this day has again brought us closer to the finish," Vondra said.

"The Iraqi defense minister did assure me that the Republic of Iraq is still interested in this type of aircraft."

It was recently announced that the United States is supplying 18 F-16 fighters to Iraq under the Foreign Military Sales program.

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